Together, we can do better. All students, school districts, families and communities have equitable access to rich resources to improve student learning, strengthen families and create healthier communities. School and community partnerships are empowered and connected in meaningful ways, problems are solved and resources are used effectively. The bi-annual Community & Schools Together Conference, is one example of how the vision of the Community Schools CoSer has been fulfilled. The conference has enabled school and community partnerships to develop, enhance and align.
On November 16th, Community Schools hosted the second virtual Community & Schools Together Conference, which appropriately, focused on relationships and resilience. Despite the fact that the conference was an all-day, virtual event, over 100 participants attended, and stayed the course of the day. This is a true testament to the quality of regional educational leaders and expert community leaders that presented at the conference. Presentations were intentionally structured in strands, starting with self-reflection and care and moving towards taking care of staff and prioritizing staff wellness and relationships. Next, sessions focused on students, parent and family engagement and finally, community partnerships and organizations. Presenters shared a variety of information, ranging from best practices, models of intervention, program evaluation and personal resilience.
In addition to the professional learning and growth that the day was centered around, personal reflection, connection and overall wellness were of equal importance, in terms of intended outcomes. One participant shared that they appreciated “addressing the 'real' issues with empathy and care, as so many people are suffering in their own ways. Information was presented in a way that really made you want to engage, listen and be active.”
Keynote speaker, Ali Hearn inspired participants by sharing her expertise on self-care. She demonstrated to participants that self-care can be replenishing, draining, or relaxing. Replenishing self-care requires people to truly identify self-care practices that are sustaining such as staying hydrated, exercise, and eating healthy foods. Additionally, Ali connected the importance of self-care practices of staff as a benefit for students stating, “If your staff isn’t OK, then students probably are not OK.” Participants were provided with many strategies for daily check-ins as a support for staff, relationship building between staff members, and connecting with families.
Thank you to all presenters, participants and districts that were represented at the recent event. You will find the “presenter profile” below, that provides a snapshot into the collective expertise represented on November 16th. We look forward to the next Community & Schools Together Conference, which will be held on March 22nd, 2021. Please stay tuned for information about the upcoming event.
By: Katie Mendell, CA BOCES Community Schools and Michelle Rickicki, CA BOCES Professional Development